Condors Keep Their Playoff Hopes Alive

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The Bakersfield Condors are hanging on to their playoff lives by the last bit of edge left on their talons.

It was must-win territory on Friday night, and the Condors did just that in picking up a critical win against one of the teams they are trying to catch in race for the AHL post-season. The Condors scored two power-play goals plus a shorthanded marker in a 4-2 win over the San Jose Barracuda, inching closer to their Pacific Division rivals as well as the Charlotte Checkers in the race for final playoff berth. 

Charlotte also won Friday night to retain the eighth spot in the Western Conference with a .558 winning percentage. San Jose is at .548 and Bakersfield is at .525. It’s still a daunting climb for the Condors to overtake two teams in the final three weeks of the season, but a loss on Friday would have clipped the Condors completely. The win has kept them alive, for now.

“It’s a team we’re chasing, we’re right behind them. We’re in a bit of a hole but we’re not dying. Everyone knows the situation. We had to win that one. But we have to keep winning. Every game is basically our life now.” – Condors winger Rob Klinkhammer

LINEUP

Goaltenders

Laurikainen

Rimmer

Defence

Simpson – Hunt

LaLeggia – Musil 

Betker – Pageau

Forwards

Klinkhammer – Khaira – Pitlick

Hamilton – Winquist – Ford

Slepyshev – Yakimov – Boychuk

Moroz – Platzer – Kessy

FIRST PERIOD


  • An ugly first shift for Joey LaLeggia as he offers up the puck to San Jose’s Barclay Goodrow and forces a quick glove save out of Eetu Laurikainen.
  • San Jose goalie Aaron Dell is stripped of the puck behind the net by Bakersfield’s Rob Klinkhammer. A little later in the shift, “The Colonel” bashes Barracuda defenceman Julius Bergman into the end boards.
  • David Musil leads the Condors rush up ice, trying to show he has some offence in his skill set. He puts a nice pass over to Bogdan Yakimov who feeds Zach Boychuk but the shot is off the mark.
  • Laurikainen comes up with a nice stop on a 2-on-1 against San Jose’s John McCarthy.
  • The teams exchange penalties. Not much for either power-play unit. 
  • Rookie defenceman Ben Betker shows some good instincts on a pinch at the blue line, winds up carrying the puck behind the net and ragging it into the corner. Good work there.
  • Condors captain Ryan Hamilton comes down the left side and spots Josh Winquist in the slot but he is stopped by Dell’s blocker.

1-0 Condors – With Matthew Ford in the box, the Condors’ PK goes to work. Jujhar Khaira grabs ahold of the turnover and takes off 2-on-1 into the San Jose end. He waits for the right moment, sets a pass over to Klinkhammer and he beats Dell cleanly. It’s Klinkhammer’s fourth shorthanded goal and Bakersfield’s 11th of the season – five of which have come against San Jose. GOAL: Klinkhammer (14) ASSISTS: Khaira, Simpson 18:15 (SH)

“I try to anticipate stuff. You kind of take advantage when they’re playing offence because usually there’s a tendency to relax when you’re on the power play so if you can jump you can create odd-man opportunities and I’ve been lucky enough to put a couple in. You’re always trying to attack. You don’t want to cheat but you want to anticipate. You can’t be over-aggressive otherwise you put yourself in a bad position when you’re down a man. You just try to jump at the right time.” – Klinkhammer

SECOND PERIOD


  • Somehow Ryan Carpenter is left all alone behind the Condors defence only 40 seconds into the second. He goes to the backhand deke but the puck slides off his stick. Lucky break for Bakersfield.
  • Khaira drives the lane and draws a penalty from San Jose’s Trevor Parkes. Nothing doing on that Condors PP.
  • Klinkhammer gets a drop pass, busts for the net, tries to go to the deke and is taken down for another penalty. Right off the start of the power play, Tyler Pitlick tries a low shot and Ford just misses the rebound. Pitlick is then driven into the board and comes up favoring his right leg.
  • The Condors get a lengthy two-man advantage when Brad Hunt is clipped coming out of his end and San Jose’s Joakim Ryan is called for a high-sticking double minor.

2-0 – Josh Winquist twice walks in from the blue line. First shot goes just wide. Second attempt is blocked. So, Hunt gives it a try and he rifles a blast past Dell’s blocker. GOAL: Hunt (11) ASSISTS: Winquist, Hamilton 10:16 (PP)

3-0 – Lots of room in the San Jose zone so LaLeggia strides in from the blue line and before the top of the circle he uses Khaira as a screen and beats Dell blocker side. Two power-play goals in 38 seconds. GOAL: LaLeggia (8) ASSISTS: Klinkhammer, Simpson 10:54 (PP)

“The power play’s been letting us down a lot so it was nice to step up.” – Klinkhammer

  • With Mitch Moroz in the box for holding, a terrible clearing attempt from LaLeggia leads to havoc in front of the Bakersfield net. Laurikainen is in full scramble mode but he gets enough of a couple shots to keep the puck out.

3-1 – Just after Moroz comes back on the ice, Carpenter wheels off the wall and his long shot eludes a screened Laurikainen. GOAL: Carpenter (16) ASSISTS: Ryan, Mueller 16:05

  • Hunt streaks in from the line, makes a late cut towards the net, and gets two shots away but Dell is there to make both saves to keep his team’s momentum going.

THIRD PERIOD


  • Former Oilers draft pick Bryan Lerg is behind the Condors net and spots Parkes in front. Laurikainen makes a key save in the early moments of the third.
  • Pitlick is done for the night. The Condors rotate Boychuk and Ford on the line with Klinkhammer and Khaira.
  • Laurikainen bobbles a rebound and a scrum ensues. Klinkhammer is tagged for a penalty.

3-2 – From the corner, Carpenter puts a centering pass towards the net. Jeremy Morin, at the top of the blue paint, is uncovered, he spins, and swipes a backhand behind Laurikainen. GOAL: Morin (15) ASSISTS: Carpenter, Ryan 4:38 (PP)

  • Right after the goal, the Condors get sloppy in their own end, giving up a chance for Barracuda top gun Nikolay Goldobin. Laurikainen is tested but passes.
  • Hamilton is a stride to slow to catch a breakaway pass from Yakimov. Hamilton then gets an opportunity with some open space but waits too long to shoot or pass and the puck is knocked away.
  • Klinkhammer steams down the wing and looks to have a partial breakaway. He gets cuts off so he wisely circles back to find Ford cruising in but Ford can’t handle the pass.
  • Laurikainen comes up with his biggest save of the night to keep the Condors up by one. The Barracuda make two quick passes in the Bakersfield end, setting up Gus Young in tight only to have Laurikainen wall up the net. 

4-2 – San Jose has the extra attacker on the ice. Klinkhammer comes up with the puck at the Bakersfield blue line, smartly gets across centre, and then tries a long backhand shot from just inside zone. It bounces off the post but Yakimov is first to it and has the open net to himself. GOAL: Yakimov (5) ASSISTS: Klinkhammer, Slepyshev 18:47 (EN)

“I think we’ve been playing well. We just haven’t got the results we’ve wanted. We’ve been getting scoring opportunities and tonight they went in the net for us. Hopefully we can build on the successes we had tonight. They’ve been playing really well, we just haven’t got the results. It was nice to get the result. The guys understand the importance of every game so they’re going to go out and lay it all out on the line.” – Condors head coach Gerry Fleming

Three Stars

  1. Rob Klinkhammer – Bakersfield
  2. Eetu Laurikainen – Bakersfield
  3. Ryan Carpenter – San Jose

“Eetu had a good game, a good bounce-back game after the game in Texas. So hopefully he can build upon that and keep moving forward.” – Fleming

Attendance: 6,282

From the nest

  • Scratched for the Condors were Phil McRae, Marco Roy, Josh Currie, Niklas Lundstrom, and two ATO’s – Colton Waltz and Joey Benik. Benik was signed earlier Friday after a 44-point senior season with St. Cloud State University. Waltz, who is from Vermillion, Alberta, played over 270 WHL games with Brandon and Saskatoon
  • Foursome of Oilers brass at the game – Craig MacTavish, Kelly Buchberger, Rick Carriere, and Sylvain Rodrigue
  • Condors winger Matthew Ford was named the team’s nominee for AHL Man of the Year. It’s two straight years for Ford as he picked up the honor last season in Oklahoma City. Ford has been active with Special Olympics, hospital visits, a players’ charity cookbook, the Salvation Army, and Shrine Club
  • The Condors face another division rival Saturday night with the Ontario Reign in town